President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia was ready to provide more gas to Europe if requested, emphatically rejecting the suggestion that Moscow was squeezing supplies for political motives.
“If they ask us to increase further, we are ready to increase further. We will increase by as much as our partners ask us. There is no refusal, none,” Putin told an energy conference in Moscow.
European gas prices have hit record levels this month, but the Kremlin has repeatedly denied that Russia is deliberately withholding supplies in order to exert pressure for quick regulatory approval of the new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea to Germany.
Putin described as “complete nonsense” the accusation that Moscow was using energy as a political weapon.
Earlier, his spokesman said Russian gas giant Gazprom was supplying gas to Europe at maximum levels under existing contracts and any increase would need to be negotiated with the company.
“Nothing can be delivered beyond the contracts,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “How? For free? It is a matter of negotiating with Gazprom.”
Separately, deputy energy minister Pavel Sorokin said Russia had not changed its timetable for gas injection into storage facilities until Nov. 1, implying it was in no hurry to supply additional gas to Europe on the spot market.